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How to Make a Faceted Mug - Part 1

Do you remember last winter when I was at Penland School of Crafts doing a wood firing.  As we linger in the dog days of summer it's fun to think about how cold it was there in January.  Now my parka hangs in a closet waiting to be worn again.  The winter residency there is pretty cool in ways that are not just temperature related.  Less people are in the studio and the atmosphere is relaxed and easy.  That doesn't mean that I didn't learn anything.  Besides all the fun of figuring out how best to load and fire the wood kiln and Julia, the salt and soda kiln, I also learned how to make pots with variegated clay from Michael Kline and with faceting from Marsha Owen.  Both are great people, potters, and teachers.

I made a few espresso mugs for practice while I was up there but then started playing with the technique Marsha showed me in earnest when I got home.  I've used this technique on several pieces but just recently posted a couple faceted mugs on Etsy.
Handmade Faceted Pottery Mug by Lori Buff
Faceted Mug
The first thing you need to do is wedge up more clay than you would normally need for the size piece you want.  You'll be cutting away the extra clay so about half again as much is a good rule.  Start throwing the cylinder but resist all urges to make it thin.  You want the walls nice and thick for this process.  Use a metal rib to make sure they are straight, clean, and vertical.  Then compress the rim of the piece with a little taper where the highest point is on the outside of the piece.  Now is also the best time to make the cut for your foot.  You can add more of a foot later but you defiantly want to get a good cut into the bottom of the piece and remove that extra clay before you start your cuts.

Stop the wheel and make faint marks in the rim describing where you're going to make your cuts.  You can simply touch the rim with a taught cut off wire or pin tool for this step.

I made a tool for faceting because I found myself cutting into the pot when I just tried using a cut off wire.  I made the tool with an old guitar string and a cheese slicer.  The guitar string gives the cuts some texture which I really like but I have to tighten the wire on occasion.  I think I need a thicker wire.
Tool for Faceting Ceramics by Future Relics Gallery
Faceting Tool

To make the single facet you would carefully cut straight down from the rim of the piece to the foot then pull the extra clay away. You'll want to start the cut about half the thickness of the width of the cylinder wall and keep your hand really steady.  After you make the first cut turn the wheel so the next section that you marked off is in front of you and cut again, the same way.  For some reason I rarely cut through into the pot until the last cut.  I guess I just have too much time on my hands.  Anyway, don't be discouraged, it happens, just wedge up the clay and try again.

If you don't cut through the pot then take your chamois and go around the rim while spinning the wheel slowly, this will clean up that cut edge nicely and accentuate the curves.

The next post will be about how to make a double facet.  Stay tuned.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. I can't say I'm a fan of faceting or variegated clay, but I am a fan of Marsha and Michael. I took a workshop with Marsha once and she is one of the greatest people!

    1. Yes she is Tracey. I really like both, especially in atmospheric firings.

  2. We like Mudtools carving bow for faceting... we even have one in the kitchen for cutting fancy cheese (it's never been in the studio!).

    1. Thanks for the link Michèle, I love everything I've ever used by Mudtools and I think that's the one Marsha uses too, but I also enjoy making my own tools from recycled materials when I can.


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